Roku is a device that allows you to stream video and audio content directly to your television. Using a Roku device is easy and user friendly. A small black box, Roku plugs directly into your television and can be set up in minutes. Many devices on the market allow you to access instant videos and music, and Roku has its own pros and cons.
Content - Roku provides access to video and audio content. Companies that stream TV shows and movies include Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon. Musical content is accessible from Pandora Internet Radio and MP3Tunes. For sports fans, Roku provides access to NHL Gamecenter Live, NBA Gametime and UFC. News is available via Roku Newscaster, which provides news from places like NBC, CNN, and CBS. Although this is a large catalog of content, some of these companies also require paid memberships, adding to your cost.
Hardware - Roku is a small, black box that plugs directly into your television. Users with current digital televisions can use the HDMI port. However, Roku also provides RCA video/audio outputs for users with older televisions; Roku's competitors do not. Roku's current XD|S model also has a USB port that allows users to play MP3 and MP4 audio and MP4 video files. You can also load and view JPG files. The con is that many users have .avi video files, which the Roku XD|S cannot play.
Speed - The speed at which Roku loads your video and audio content depends largely on your Internet connection's speed. Users with cable or DSL Internet will experience a fast loading process. Users with digital televisions who use the HDMI output on their Roku device will also experience a faster loading process than users with older televisions and RCA connections, due to RCA technology. Users with only dial-up Internet will not be able to access Roku's content quickly.
Video and Audio Quality - Roku users with digital televisions using HDMI output will experience a smooth, high quality video and audio feed. High definition video content is accessible and playable on HDTVs quickly. However, users with older televisions using RCA video/audio connections will experience a drop in video and audio quality. Graininess may occur in RCA video content. This is due to RCA technology, not the Roku streaming device. Roku's video and audio quality is as good as the user's television will allow.